Kuoda’s Guide To Inti Raymi Celebrations In Peru in 2023

What is Inti Raymi and how is it Celebrated in Cusco

Picture the streets of Cusco lined with dancers in elaborate costumes, lively musicians who have been playing traditional music for generations beyond count, dozens of street vendors serving traditional delicacies, and selling handmade crafts, and over 800 people from all over the country and world celebrating together – that’s what to expect at Inti Raymi celebrations in Peru in 2023 –  Peru’s largest celebration of Incan culture and tradition which takes place on June 24th, every year.

Inti Raymi celebrates the winter solstice and is still celebrated in Peru today. It is an exciting and vibrant celebration that brings together music, dance, food, and ancient Incan rituals, as well as crowds from all over the world looking to immerse themselves in one of the most special celebrations of the Incan world.

Looking to visit Peru for Inti Raymi on your luxury tour of Peru? Learn what to know about the celebration to prepare for your visit, and reach out to us today to plan your trip to Peru for Inti Raymi celebrations in Peru in 2023.

The History:

Qoricancha

The Inti Raymi was established by the Inca Pachacutec in the decade of 1430 AD. and was celebrated every year during the winter solstice of the southern hemisphere -the day when the Sun was farthest from the Earth-. It was the most important ancestral festivity of the Tahuantinsuyo, which the inhabitants of the four suyos (regions) used to attend. The celebration was last attended by the Inca in 1535. Today, the tradition is maintained as a theatrical performance charged with mysticism and spirituality.

In 1572, the Inti Raymi was prohibited by the Spanish viceroy Francisco de Toledo for considering it a pagan ceremony and contrary to the Catholic faith, although it continued to be celebrated clandestinely. In 1944, Faustino Espinoza Navarro promoted the recovery of this traditional event and carried out a historical reconstruction. Since that date, the festival has become public again and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

On March 3, 2001, the Inti Raymi was declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation. Inti Raymi is also recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, in recognition of its cultural significance and contribution to humanity’s cultural heritage. The recognition acknowledges the importance of Inti Raymi as a celebration of Inca culture and tradition and its significance in promoting cultural diversity and dialogue.

The Location:

Sacsayhuaman

There are more than 800 people, including actors, dancers, and musicians who – dressed in typical clothing – star in a series of scenes that include dances, performances, and praises performed outside the temple of Qorikancha and the Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Park, as well as in the Main Square of the city.

The celebration route begins at Qorikancha, the ancient religious center of the Inca capital, where with dances and songs an offering is made to the Apu Inti or Sun God. Once the first act is finished in the esplanade of the Qorikancha or Temple of the Sun, the attendees go to the Main Square to witness the continuation of the ceremony. It is said that in this place, known as Haukaypata in the Inca times, where the most important people of the empire used to gather during the night before the celebration to await the appearance of Apu Inti. With silence and with great respect they awaited the dawn, and when the star ascended between the mountains, the villagers gave thanks for the prosperous harvests of the year.

The extensive field of the esplanade of Sacsayhuamán is the site of the third and last act: the most important of the day, which lasts approximately two hours. Here, the Inca and his entourage arrive to pay their respects and admiration to the Sun. The Inca recites a prayer in the Quechua language and simulates the sacrifice of a camelid so that a shaman can predict the prosperity and well-being of the coming year.

The Weather:

June is the beginning of the dry season in Cusco, but it can still be chilly in the mornings and evenings. It’s important to dress appropriately and bring layers to stay warm. 

The Tickets:

To attend the main celebration of Inti Raymi in Cusco, you will need to have a ticket in advance – not to worry as Kuoda will ensure your entire travel party is prepared with tickets to the celebration – with first-row seats to witness the celebrations.

The Traditions:

During Inti Raymi, there are several traditional ceremonies and rituals that take place throughout the city, including a procession of the Incan emperor and his entourage. The emperor is carried on a golden throne, accompanied by musicians and dancers dressed in traditional costumes. You can expect to see traditional ceremonies and rituals honoring the sun god, including offerings of coca leaves and chicha (a fermented corn drink) to the gods. The main celebration of Inti Raymi takes place in Cusco and is the largest and most popular event of the festival. You can watch the colorful processions, traditional ceremonies, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Music and dancing are an integral part of Inti Raymi, with performers playing traditional instruments and performing dances that have been passed down through generations. The music and dancing create a festive atmosphere that will surely leave you feeling energized.

The celebrations culminate with a spectacular display of fireworks, lighting up the night sky over Cusco. It’s a magical and unforgettable moment that you won’t want to miss.

The Culture:

Inti Raymi is a celebration of Incan culture and tradition, and you can expect to see a number of traditional ceremonies and rituals taking place during the celebrations. These ceremonies may include offerings to the gods, music, and dance performances. Attending Inti Raymi is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Peru. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history and customs of the Andean people and gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich cultural heritage. One of the highlights of Inti Raymi is the colorful costumes and dances that are performed throughout the celebrations. You’ll see dancers dressed in vibrant costumes, performing traditional dances that have been passed down through generations.

The Food:

During Inti Raymi, traditional Incan food and drink are served. Try chicha, a fermented corn drink, or cuy, a roasted guinea pig, which is considered a delicacy in Peru, especially during times of celebration. For a truly authentic experience, Kuoda can even plan an Andean cooking class, where you learn how to make Pachamanca, a traditional Andean dish that is made by cooking meat, potatoes, and other vegetables in an underground oven. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that is often served during special occasions, including Inti Raymi.

The other activities:

Beyond Inti Raymi, Cusco has a wealth of activities and experiences that stand alone in their splendor, beyond the festival. In Cusco, visitors can explore the city’s well-preserved colonial architecture and visit sites like the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and the Qorikancha Temple. The city is also the gateway to Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. In the Sacred Valley, visitors can explore Inca ruins and villages, including Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero.

The valley is also home to a vibrant indigenous culture, and visitors can learn about traditional weaving, agriculture, and cuisine by visiting local communities and markets. Other activities in the region include hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, as well as enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the Andes mountains. Click HERE for more adventures you can experience in Cusco.

Inti Raymi in Cusco is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the Andean people. Leave the planning and preparation to us  and enjoy a memorable and meaningful experience at this incredible event, planned by us,  local Cusqueños, and travel experts looking to make your Inti Raymi a memorable one, whether it’s your first or an ongoing tradition. Chat with us today about experiencing Peruvian culture through Inti Raymi.

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